Monday, September 20, 2021

Comment of the day: "This team needs to be dissected and analyzed for posterity."

(This arrived in today's comments, from ZacharyA. It's worth its own post.)

This team needs to be dissected and analyzed for posterity.

Can any of you remember a previous team with championship aspirations where EVERY SINGLE position player got worse at the same time? And it wasn't due to age.

I'm honestly more fascinated than angry. I want someone to do a deep dive investigation on this team. How did an entire position player core start rotting at the same moment?

Let's go player by player:

Gary Sanchez (Age 28)
Gary hit .299/.376/.657 in his debut season, finishing second in the Rooke of the Year race. In 2017, he hit .278/.345/.531 and made the All Star team. And now? Gary has hit .191 over the last two years, he no longer has 30-HR power, and defensively he's unplayable.

Luke Voit (Age 30)
Luke came over to the Yankees and was the best hitter on the planet down the stretch in 2018. He had a decent 2019 and finished 9th in MVP voting in 2020. And now? OPS under .800 and so sloppy defensively the Yankees had to trade for another first baseman.

Gleyber Torres (Age 24)
Gleyber debuted with back-to-back All Star seasons, blasting 38 HR in his sophomore year and being crowned one of the best young players in the game. And now? Gleyber carries a pedestrian .325 OBP and pitiful .349 SLG and is so bad defensively the Yankees had to pull him off shortstop at age 24.

Gio Urshela (Age 29)
A true Brian Cashman miracle, Urshela burst onto the scene with a .314/.355/.534 batting line in 2019 and a very strong .298/.368/.490 in 2020. And now? Gio has a .297 OBP and his SLG has dropped by more than 100 points since his first season with the club. Here's another thing. FanGraphs has a fancy baserunning statistic called BsR, which "turns stolen bases, caught stealings, and other base running plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc) into runs above and below average." I'm not going to get too into this statistic here but Gio Urshela ranks dead last among all AL players in BsR. He hasn't simply been a bad baserunner, he's been the league's worst. (Remember BsR, because we will revisit it shortly.)

DJ LeMahieu (Age 32)
One of the best signings of the Cashman era, DJ LeMahieu finished in the Top-5 MVP voting in 2019 and 2020, hitting .336/.386/.536 in 850+ PA. He won back-to-back Silver Slugger awards. And now? His SLG has fallen more than 150 points and he no longer drives in runs (did you remember that LeMahieu had 100 RBI in 2019?). The man who was a 2020 MVP finalist is now a below-average offensive player (99 OPS+).

Miguel Andújar (Age 26)
Andujar hit .297/.328/.527 in his debut, gathering 27 home runs and 47 doubles. He was a mess defensively, but was still a 3-WAR player because of his bat. Now? Over the past three years, Andujar has hit .228/.257/.331 (.588 OPS), can't stay healthy, and doesn't have a defensive position.

Clint Frazier (Age 26)
Nothing but a part-time player at best from 2017 to 2019, Frazier hit a mediocre .254/.308/.463 in around 400 PA. But in 2020, he got a chance to play full time and he soared. Frazier hit .267/.394/.511 and incredibly was a Gold Glove finalist. And now? Frazier hit .186/.317/.317 this season, forgot how to catch the ball again, and may have suffered career-ending concussion symptoms.

Aaron Hicks (Age 31)
From 2017 to 2018, Hicks hit .255/.368/.470 (.838 OPS) in 950 PA. He showed power and patience, stole a few bases, and played strong defense. Yes, there were injury concerns, but Hicks was almost a five-tool player if you squinted. And now? Hicks hit .194/.294/.333 this season before suffering a season-ending injury for the second time in three years.

Giancarlo Stanton (Age 31)
In his final season with the Marlins, Stanton hit .281/.376/.631, blasted 59 HR, and won the MVP Award. From 2014-2017, Stanton hit .271/.366/.573 (.939 OPS). That's what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired him. And now? Stanton is hitting .270/.355/.498 (.853 OPS), which is good but not $325M good. Additionally, the 31-year-old is too fragile to play the field more than once or twice a week. (Stanton was a Gold Glove finalist the season before coming to New York.) And remember that baserunning stat I mentioned before? BsR. Well, Urshella has the lowest BsR in the American League and Stanton is directly behind him as the second worst runner in the league.

Aaron Judge (Age 29)
Judge burst onto the season with his historic rookie season, hitting .284/.422/.627 with 52 HR, 114 RBI, 128 R, and quality defense. And now? In his first fully healthy season since 2017, Judge has hit .284/.369/.531, which is excellent but clearly a stepback from his initial season. He's only driven in 85 RBI and scored 78 runs, which is more on his teammates than him. But still weird to see. Defensively is where things have really taken a hit, as Judge has gone from Gold Glove finalist (2017, 2019) to completely average in the field.

I won't type up a paragraph on Brett Gardner since he's 38 and decline is expected. 

I've never seen anything like this before. A team of talented players in their primes all declining at the same time: offensively, defensively, and on the basepaths. I'll repeat that Aaron Judge is having a good season. Without him, this team is sub-.500. But even he can't escape the plague of talent drain that has hit this position player group.


JM said...

This is, as far as I know (which isn't much), unprecedented in Yankees history. Maybe in baseball history. The collapse of so many young players who started with All Star promise can't be accidental. Injuries are one thing, but this, as a Swedish employer of mine once said, is mind gobbling.

I suppose it could all be coincidental. For so many to break down for so long might be one of those flukes that corrects itself next year or the year after. But it sure doesn't look that way.

Somebody, somewhere, with enough inside knowledge to be credible, needs to explain this.

And as Ricky Ricardo--Lucy's, not the announcer--used to say, they have some 'splainin' to do.

ZacharyA said...

hey thanks for posting el duque

DickAllen said...

This team does need to be dissected - and fed to the pigs. Even they might come away disappointed.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

@ZacharyA: Very, very well done. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Great call, Duque! This is a perfect summary of The Dynasty What Never Was.

Anonymous said...

Well done.

If I were to guess it would be because they collectively feel like cogs instead of people.

No matter how you play the machine decides. Named player of the Week. Sit 8 of the next 10. Go four for five. Tomorrow is your scheduled day off.

Hey coach am I playing today? Don't know I haven't got the print out yet.

Gallo: I hate batting second!
Boone: But that's where your skill set is best applied.

Shit like that.

Doug K.

TheWinWarblist said...

How many of those players had Covid this year? How many could be effected by long haul symptoms?

ranger_lp said...

09/20/21 New York Yankees activated RHP Luis Severino.
09/20/21 New York Yankees optioned RHP Clarke Schmidt to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
09/20/21 New York Yankees released RHP Sal Romano.

So how many times Pecorino Romano has been released this year?

Piiax said...

Aaron Boone, the anti-Girardi, needs to take a bow for much of this. Hired because the players would not get their feelings hurt, and he wouldn't fight the front office either. Milk toast begets milk toast.

DickAllen said...

Uh oh!

Watch out Carl!

Sevy could get those two starts after all!!

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...


Great thinking + writing. I read this earlier, and thought about it some. Returned, re-read it, thought more.

There is no answer for the WHY question, except that things are totally F-ed up.

Even if you blame the players - each individual guy? -- you end up with the wandering thought:

Who assembled this group of decliners?

Thank you!

ZacharyA said...

Another scary thought: even if we have a splashy offseason trying to turn things around, how do we know the new players won't meet the same fate?

Scottish Yankee fan said...

Great post thanks for sharing

DickAllen said...

Thanks, Zach. Informative and disheartening. If I hadn’t been a witness to this mess, I would not have thought it possible. Your assessment is depressingly clear and concise.

The decline is unfathomable. But, whenever I see this kind of collective malaise, there is no one to fault but leadership. It’s a shame the troops can’t shoot their own leaders. Euthanizing management in this case would be perfectly reasonable and defensible.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

ICS hits a HR. Another week of passed balls and ground outs.

Kevin said...

Excellent post!!!

The Archangel said...

These guys have the shelf life of the average NFL player.
There must be a lots of contact we don't know about.

The easiest explanation is that it is mentally bruising to be a millionaire with a guarantied salary while still in your 20's.Must be like the traders in "Billions."

Please give these nice young men some slack.
It ain't easy, you just don't know how it feels.

The All-Knowing Archangel

Carl J. Weitz said...

I won't hold my breath.